Holidays can be stressful. But add to the mix everyone’s different eating habits – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, low-sodium, paleo, raw – and it’s enough to send anyone over the edge! Here are some tips to take the stress out of holiday meals.
Tips for the “traditional” eater
- Focus on family, not the food – When you think of holidays, it’s hard not to think about food. After all, food is a social activity, and, for some people, cooking for their families is a way of showing their love. But sometimes we all need a little reminder about what’s truly important. So don’t focus on the gluten-free piecrusts – focus on the family conversations.
- Be respectful of others – You may not understand why your meat and potato raised son is suddenly vegetarian, but be glad he came home for the holidays! While you are muttering under your breath trying to figure out how to make a lentil loaf in the shape of a turkey, your son is struggling with having to sit down at a table where the centerpiece was once a living, vibrant being.
- Learn to tweak recipes – Many traditional holiday foods can easily be modified to accommodate almost any diet. Many vegan and gluten-free substitutions are easy, cheap, and almost indistinguishable in taste from the “real thing.”
Tips for the “alternative” eater
- Remove your diet from conversation – There’s no better way to start an unexpected fight than by engaging in conversation about your diet. The holidays are about family, not why you eat the way you do. So simply don’t engage in those conversations. For more advice on how to avoid those awkward moments, check out this blog post.
- Make your own food – Don’t expect others to make your food. Make a few dishes yourself – enough to share with everyone else so they can see how good the food is. And if you’re really adventurous, offer to prepare the entire meal, alternative-style.
- Suggest eating out – Sometimes, to just take the pressure off everyone, eating out is a good alternative. Make sure it’s a place where they will be able to accommodate you, and be sure you know what questions to ask and dishes to avoid.
For additional tips on alternative meals, ask others about their holiday traditions.
To help you get started, here are a few recipes that are sure to be a hit!
Vegan Cheesy Potatoes
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Creamy No Bake Pumpkin Pie
Almost Raw Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie
VeggiePatti’s Roasted Squash with Quinoa Stuffing
You can use any squash for this recipe. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place squash halves on an oiled (or tinfoiled) cookie sheet or in a 9×13 pan. Roast at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or more, checking every 5 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on type and size of squash used.
- 2 ¼ cups mushroom broth
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1/3 cup cranberries, chopped (for a sweeter taste, use dried cranberries)
- 2-3 cups mushrooms, chopped
- 2 handfuls spinach
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
Combine all ingredients except walnuts into large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to simmer and cover. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed by quinoa. Mix walnuts into quinoa stuffing. Scoop stuffing into squash halves and serve.
And remember, holidays are about spending time with the family and being grateful for what we have. Don’t let food overtake your holiday spirit!